Wed
Jun 8 2011 12:00pm

Malazan Re-read of the Fallen: Memories of Ice, Chapter 22

Welcome to the Malazan Re-read of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda (with Amanda, new to the series, going first), and finally comments from Tor.com readers. In this article, we’ll cover Chapter 22 of Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson (MoI).

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing.

Note: The summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A forum thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

Just a heads-up on some housekeeping over the next few posts: Due to the length and large amount of information, we’re going to split Chapter 23 into two posts (we’ll do the same for the same reasons with Chapter 25). The first post will cover scenes 1-6, ending with Kruppe’s, “Hear naught until meaning itself disperses . . . ” The second post will pick up at scene 7, with Picker staring out, “on the black waters of Ortnal’s Cut.”

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

SCENE 1

As Toc listens, the Seerdomin tells the Seer the Matron is getting worse and that Toc cannot walk anymore. Toc thinks to himself, “there is a wolf . . . trapped in this cage—my chest, these bones . . . The wolf cannot call . . . call . . . To whom? I’d rested my hand once on her furred shoulder . . . So close, traveling in step, yet not awakened . . . such tragic ignorance.” The Seerdomin warns that if Toc is returned to the Matron she will kill him and the Seer becomes angered at the Seerdomin’s impertinence. The Seer asks a bystander—the Septarch Ultentha—who tells the Seer to relieve Toc of his horror, but the Seer refuses: “He is mine! He is Mother’s! She needs him—someone to hold—she needs him!” The Seer threatens to kill them if they persist, then tells them to leave Toc there and asks for reports. Ultentha discusses defense plans. The Seer says he wants Brood’s hammer, Brood dead, Malazans wiped out, and Itkovian delivered as replacement for Toc. The Seer wonders why the armies remain divided despite the Ravens having discovered the empty cities. When the Septarch discusses disease, the Seer says the Domin soldiers will be protected by Poliel, though he cannot say why she does so when the Seerdomin asks. Toc, somewhat crazed, laughs and the Seer wants to know what amuses him. Toc tells him Dujek’s army is the deadliest one in the Empire and it is coming for him, something the Matron senses if the Seer does not. The Seer says the Matron does not fear the Malazans, but is frightened by the ancient terror of Moon’s Spawn. Not Rake and the Andii, who co-opted the flying keep and, according to the Seer, don’t know close to all its abilities, but by the memories it brings up of the K’chain Nah-rhuk—the Short-Tails—who waged war on the K’chain Che’Malle. He says her fears are instinctual and groundless as Moon’s Spawn is nowhere near, possibly even destroyed. His condors have searched for it and found nothing. The Seer says he is breaking all of Toc’s faiths one by one, until all he has left is hope the Seer is merciful. The Seer commands the Seerdomin to return Toc and when he brings him back, he tells Toc the Matron’s chain does not allow her to reach the entire room and he will put Toc out of reach, bring him food, water, and a blanket, saying the Seer will be too distracted to notice. When Toc says, “He will have you devoured,” Seerdomin replies, “I was devoured long ago.” Toc says he is sorry to hear that and the Seerdomin is moved by Toc’s compassion. Toc asks if ice still chokes the sea and the Seerdomin says some “unexpected twist” has cleared the harbor, though there is still ice and raging storms out in the bay.

SCENE 2

Envy and Lanas speak on the Meckros City, now roughly 20 leagues from Coral Envy thinks. When Envy mentions Tool, Lanas says she saw him only once, when he spoke out against the ritual. When Envy says Lanas must hate him, she replies no, they merely disagreed and he acquiesced to the majority. Lanas adds that it is typically thought that “truth is proved by weight of numbers. That what the many believe to be right, must be so. When I see Onos T’oolan once more, I will tell him: he was the one who was right.” Envy mentions she’d been wondering why the Seguleh haven’t challenged Lanas and tell the T’lan that it turns out Seguleh will not fight women unless attacked. She warns Lanas therefore not to do so, saying Tool had some trouble with Senu and Thurule and was probably evenly matched by Mok. When Envy continues, complaining about how Garath is still angry with her, Lanas says it is because “the ay has awakened.” Envy says she’s aware of that, and that she feels bad for the wolf-gods: “an eternity alone.” Lanas asks who granted the ay this “edged gift” and Envy answers: “A misguided sibling who’d thought he was being kind . . . had found the goddess, terribly damaged by the Fall, and needed a warm-blooded place to lay her spirit so that it could heal.” When Lanas says Envy’s sibling has a “misplaced sense of mercy,” Envy agrees.

SCENE 3

At Lest, Korlat watches as Crone angrily reports to Kallor, telling him “You still do not grasp the gravity of this! Fool! Ox! Where is Anomander Rake? . . . I must speak with him—warn him . . . [that] unknown sorcery lies within those abominable vultures [the Seer’s condors].” When she says the Ravens are being kept away from Coral and that the Seer is preparing, Kallor says of course they are. Crone demands to know where Moon’s Spawn is and when nobody answers, she panics, telling Korlat Rake has failed and “taken three-quarters of the Tiste Andii with him!” Brood asks what is happening with the Malazans and she says they’re close to Setta. Kallor takes their unexpected pace as a sign of deception. Brood tells Crone to keep an eye on Dujek’s army and to have faith in Rake. Korlat’s attention wanders and she realizes it has been doing that a lot lately, that her only concern centers on Whiskeyjack, whom she loves. She recalls the first time she saw him, riding to the parley and how he’d caught her eye even then. She is still stunned that Rake calls him “friend,” something she has known him to do with only one other—Brood—with whom he had forged such close ties of friendship over centuries and then millennia, unlike the speed of his friendship with Whiskeyjack. She thinks they share something of spirit, though she admits she cannot see it: “Anomander Rake cannot be reached out to, cannot be so much as touched—not his true self. I have never known what lies behind my Lord’s eyes. I have but sensed its vast capacity—but not the flavor of all that it contains. But Whiskeyjack . . . while I cannot see all that is within him, I can see the cost of containment. The bleeding but not the wound. And I can see his strength.” Crone continues bemoaning the state of things, wondering where Silverfox and the Mhybe are, why the Grey Swords and Gruntle’s legion march so far behind the rest, why the Malazans were so quick to divide the army, where Rake is, and even if the Andii are alive. The scene closes with Korlat begging Whiskeyjack—the “thief of her thoughts” to never release her.

SCENE 4

Itkovian and Gruntle watch two scouts approach to make a report to the Shield Anvil and Destriant. Stonny tells them they’re dumb for watching and wondering and she rides off to find out what the report is about. As the two men wait for her return, Itkovian muses on how Gruntle—with his indifference to discipline or a sense of hierarchy and the way he despises anything military—is his total opposite. Stonny returns and tells them Bauchelain and Broach’s carriage is riding behind them. When he asks about Buke and she says he isn’t there, Gruntle rides off toward the necromancers. Stonny asks Itkovian to go with him. As they ride, Itkovian tells Gruntle he once offered to take Buke’s burden but he refused. Gruntle says Itkovian should have done it anyway, as the new Shield Anvil did with Anaster, who now rides beside her, though Itkovian says he is “but a shell. There was naught else within him but pain. It’s taking has stolen his knowledge of himself,” and asks if that’s really what Gruntle would want for Buke. They reach the necromancers’ carriage and when Gruntle questions him, Reese tells him Buke flew away, which calms Gruntle. Bauchelain steps out and asks what they want, warning them he’s short-tempered. Gruntle says they got what they wanted and before they leave, Itkovian asks Bauchelain why he doesn’t do something for Reese’s toothache. Bauchelain sighs and says he’ll tell Broach to get ready for another surgery, upbraiding Reese for this being the third tooth he’s broken eating olives. Reese turns white and begs no more surgery. Gruntle and Itkovian ride away. When Itkovian asks why Gruntle is laughing, Gruntle tells him Reese will curse him forever, because sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

SCENE 5

Inside Hood’s temple, Coll and Murillio wait while Death’s Knight prepares the Mhybe’s place. Coll thinks depressing thoughts. A poet’s snippet: “The world spins about us unseen. The blind dance in circles. There’s no escaping what you are, and all your dreams glittered white at night but grey in the light of day.” Of Simtal telling him she was pregnant before she’d destroyed his earlier life, though he does not know if there actually had been a child, and if so, what happened to it. He asks Murillio who tells him there were rumors and he thinks she had a child and sent it away. They didn’t tell Coll because he was a drunk and a wreck. Coll says he’ll have Baruk help him find the child. Murillio tells him he can’t just claim it out of whoever’s house the child is in, plus he says Coll can’t raise a child, though he could be a “hidden benefactor.” The Knight returns and leads them to a large hole in the room’s center where the Mhybe will go, and it looks like a sarcophagus to Coll and Murillio.

SCENE 6

The Mhybe dreams. The tundra and hunters have disappeared and she wanders “desolation . . . no grasses underfoot, no sweet cool wind. The hum of the blackflies was gone . . . The sky overhead was colorless, devoid of cloud or even sun.” She is weakening and feels she will soon dissolve. She thinks now that “nothing had been as it had seemed—it had all been something different, something secret, a riddle she’d yet to work out. And now it was too late. Oblivion had come for her . . . Perhaps those visions had been the products of her own mind after all.” She comes across a towering mass of bones, “a cage of ribs, each rib scarred, knotted with malignant growths . . . Between each bone, sing was stretched, enclosing whatever was within.” She wonders if it is her heart inside and wants to flee, but the “it” inside senses her, “demanded that she stay . . . that she come closer . . . touch . . . then it began to pull. And the land beneath her shifted, tilted . . . the ribs were no ribs no longer. They were legs. And skin was not skin. It had become a web. And she was sliding.”

 

Amanda’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty Two:

Tales to Scare Children—not sure what is going on here, but it’s bloody creepy, isn’t it? That “...and now was!” is incredibly sinister. Trying to work out who the spider is here... Someone manipulative—well, we know many like that! From older books, we’ve seen Shadowthrone associated with spiders. I can imagine Envy fitting the role. Of course, the Crippled God is sat in the shadows manipulating everything. In fact, we’d do better listing all those who wouldn’t be the spider. *winks*

I feel as though I say ‘poor Toc’ way too often, but it’s the way I think. Especially when I remember the sardonic, good humoured fellow he used to be—I mourn him. Now his mindless panic causes the Matron to squeeze tighter: “He can no longer walk, and his breath seems so laboured within that malformed chest.”

Hmm, is the damage to Toc causing Togg pain as well? Creating a cage from which he can’t call to his mate anymore?

Ooh, that paragraph is intriguing: “So close, travelling in step, yet not awakened...such tragic ignorance.” Did Togg once travel with the one who holds his mate? Or did Toc? I’m trying to work out the personages represented, because I think it will confirm the fate of... maybe, the Mhybe? [Bill: Remember whom Toc was traveling with—with Togg inside him—before he joined the Tenescowri.]

Is the Seer worried that the Matron will embrace him if he has no one else to offer?

“Shall I gather my Winged Ones?” Reference to the vultures created from the Crippled God?

Hmm, I can see Ultentha eating his words here:

“They’ll not send scouts to the forested ridge on their right - I will stake my soul on that.”

And again:

“The skies have been cleared...”

Do you think he knows that Crone is always sneaking around? And how about that pesky flying rock?

Is the Seer so vindictive towards the Grey Swords because of the way they defended Capustan? Or is it something else?

Surely Togg cannot die? Especially not now that the Grey Swords have pledged to him...

“But the wolf chose the wrong man, the wrong body. When he came down to take my eye - that flash of grey, burning, that I’d thought a stone - I’d been whole, young, sound. But the Matron has me now.”

Oh, hang on! The Matron is panicking! About what? Here is a quick reply: Moon’s Spawn. Huh, how strange that I had never once considered what Moon’s Spawn was, or where it came from! Because it has always been associated with the Tiste Andii, I just assumed that it was connected to them. Never assume... We’re now given the formal name for the Short-Tails—K’Chain Nah’rhuk.

So Anomander Rake cannot access the full powers of Moon’s Spawn? Since we’ve now been told about these powers (the gun on the mantelpiece) I’m thinking they’re going to become an important plot point at some point—of course, could happen in book ten. *winks*

I hate the Seer. Hate him.

This gentle moment between the Seerdomin and Toc is beautiful—the fact that Toc is even able to show compassion right now shows both the strength of the man and the fact that he is not quite broken.

I wonder how many of the T’lan Imass now feel as Lanas Tog does? That the Ritual was a mistake? Many, I’d imagine, based on the fact that they have begged for release.

Now I have to try and work out who Lady Envy’s sibling is... “My sibling had found the goddess, terribly damaged by the Fall, and needed a warm-blooded place to lay her spirit, so that it could heal.”

Does Crone show her power or her recklessness by calling Brood ‘fool’ and ‘ox’?

I think here that Kallor possibly has the right of it to call deceit—rare to say that!:

“You heard the bird, Kallor. The Malazans march. Faster than we’d expected, true, but that is all.”

Wow, I’m breathless at these thoughts swirling through Korlat’s mind about Whiskeyjack. Such depth of love:

“Her wants were held, one and all, in the eyes of a man. A mortal, of angled, edged nobility. A man past his youth, a soul layered in scars - yet he had surrendered it to her.”

And later:

“And you, my dear lover, thief of all my thoughts, will you ever release me? Please. Do not. Ever.”

The only problem... I see tragedy in their future. How can this possibly succeed, this love affair between mortal and immortal? In the midst of a war?

Here is a question—how did Brood and Rake ever form their alliance, their relationship? There must be a helluva story in that? Do we ever get that story within these books, or is it something that Erikson plans to showcase in a different series? I sincerely hope so! I imagine it being cataclysmic!

And I sincerely want to know more about this:

“Anomander Rake cannot be reached out to, cannot be so much as touched - not his true self. I have never known what lies behind my Lord’s eyes. I have but sensed its vast capacity - but not the flavour of all that it contains.”

*grins* I LOVE the idea of two companies called Riff and Raff! Stonny, Itkovian and Gruntle are fantastic foils for each other in conversational terms. I really enjoy their banter. Interesting that Erikson puts together such opposites in the form of Itkovian and Gruntle.

Heh, does the cat sense the Tiger?

Ahh, here is the reference to the spider, and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. “There’s no escaping what you are, and all your dreams glittered white at night, but grey in the light of day.” At least I did reference the sinister aspect of it!

You know something? I suspect we might just meet Coll’s child! I do love the fact that Coll feels this child presents a reason for staying sober and holding himself up.

We have another echo here, between Toc and the Mhybe:

“And she was weakening, her youthful muscles failing in some undefinable way [...] Her lungs ached, as if they too were losing their ability to function.”

Sinister start to the chapter; sinister end. What trial does the Mhybe face now?

 

Bill’s Reaction to Chapter Twenty Two:

So we left off with Toc’s Seerdomin feeling kind of good toward the guy for all the reasons we listed in the prior chapter, and here we are with him starting us off by arguing that perhaps Toc deserves a break. More appealing acts and words from him, and more suspense as the reader can’t help but wonder if he will help Toc escape.

By now we should all be pretty clear that Toc carries the wolf god within him, but never hurts I suppose to remind the reader—so we get Toc’s very direct, very blunt statements to that effect.

There’s that word “embrace” again, by the way... 84 times in this book, according to my trusty Kindle. To be honest, I would have even guessed more.

I do find it interesting that here, in the Seer’s very seat of power, with how he looks and all as well, that two of his officers are willing if not to defy him, to at least argue with him. You see it a little later as well when the Seer is questioned as to Poliel’s motivations. Not what one would usually expect I think in these sort of situations.

We’ve remarked on the parallels/mirrors among storylines and we see one here when the Seer tells his officers: “She [the matron] needs him . . . “ and the Seerdomin replies, “Her love is proving fatal.” It’s an interesting turnaround of the Mhybe/Silverfox relationship: in one, the child kills the mother; in the other the mother kills the child.

When someone says “Person A won’t do X; I will stake my soul on it,” how often do you guys think to yourself—there goes one soul?

And how many hear Robert DeNiro as Al Capone in the Seer’s little “I want Caladan Brood. I want his hammer . . . I want the Malazans annihilated . . .”? I want you to find this nancy-boy Dujek and I want him dead! I want his second—Whiskeyjack—dead!

So as usual, after we get a little bit of info on the K’Chain Nah’ruk—from Kallor—if we’re patient we get a little more. Now we learn just how they fought that civil war Kallor mentioned—via great sky keeps, of which only one remains according to the Seer: Moon’s Spawn. Knowing that, and knowing what we know of the Soletaken form of Rake and a few other Andii, the Seer’s comparison of the Andii to “lizards in an abandoned tunnel” is particularly apt on several levels.

So if I react with strong skepticism to the officer guaranteeing the Malazans won’t send scouts in, my skepticism becomes doubled when the Big Bad guarantees that Moon’s Spawn is “not within two hundred leagues of here.”

A moving scene then between the Seerdomin and Toc—one we’ve been prepared forever since he handed Toc his cloak. It isn’t quite perhaps what we as readers hoped for based on earlier acts of remorse/kindness/guilt—an escape attempt—but we’ll take this bit of compassion and sacrifice. One made more moving by Toc’s own returned compassion and empathy when he worries about the repercussions for the Seerdomin—I love that long pause before the Seerdomin can speak: “I am ever surpassed.” And what a devastating line of his just before then—“I was devoured long ago.” Back and forth we go on that concept from metaphor to literal back to metaphor.

We’re really starting to see that whole T’lan Imass happily undead forever after idea getting chipped away, aren’t we? First via Kilava and Tool in their own complex thoughts toward it, plus we’ve got rebel Imass, then the Second Gathering’s aching request for relief, then the Wolf God’s desire to have the Ay freed of the ritual, and now Lanas’ belief that Tool was right after all. Toss in the whole other side of the Jaghut war and that act, which on the surface seemed such noble sacrifice, is becoming a terrifyingly dark concept.

So we got Toc and Togg’s clarifying little summary, and now we get more info on what happened with Fanderay and Baaljaag—Fanderay found “terribly damaged by the Fall” while Baaljaag’s pack was dead, leaving her the last Ay on the continent. We saw this scene earlier via Toc’s connection:

“. . . standing before her, a figure. Cowled, swathed in roughly woven black wool, a hand—wrapped in leather straps, down to the very fingers—reaching out. Warmth. Welcome. A palpable compassion . . . an Elder God . . . ‘there will be need for you in time. Thus, I promise that I shall bring to you a lost spirit. Torn from its flesh. A suitable one, of course. For that reason, my search may be a long one.”

My own view, Amanda, is the Elder God is K’rul for a few reasons. One is the sense of compassion. Another is the long view (though that’s certainly not exclusive to K’rul in this series). And third is that the god puts Baaljaag into a dream world. In this reading, I’m taking the use of Envy’s “sibling” to mean sort of “family” rather than actual sibling. It is, however, left open. And I’ll confess that if we have another god described in the black wool and leather-strapped hands, I’m not at this point recalling just that detail—feel free to mention it if any of you veterans do. So the “there will be need for you in time”—one which on the quick surface seems to apply to acting as a vessel for Fanderay. But then, the idea that the god will have to “search” for a long time to find a suitable spirit, and the “thus” seems to indicate that there is a need for Baaljaag (or an Ay) beyond being used as a vessel. Anyone?

I like that wry ending of Lanas and Envy’s conversation—good sense of comic timing.

I like that idea of Korlat daydreaming from being in love—this millennia-old woman.

I think, too, that millennia-old note is an important thing to remember when she thinks as Crone panics that she (Korlat) could just reach out her warren to try and find Rake and Moon’s Spawn. For a regular old mortal, that’s a hard thing to understand and might seem manipulative on the part of the author—but those that have lived as long as some of these characters aren’t just “older”—that difference in years has to be qualitative as well as quantitative—it has to have an impact on how one thinks, how one reacts (or doesn’t react).

Speaking of that, imagine living those millennia with no seeming friends—as with Rake. In all that time, his sole acknowledged one (which doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel that way about others) is Brood, a relationship based on respect and only getting together every few centuries or so. Combine that with the burden of being responsible for an entire people. I wonder if this is the connection between Rake and Whiskeyjack—the burden of responsibility, of seeing people continue on, all the while holding oneself apart from them, as we heard Whiskeyjack has done (remember we hear of this in GoTM). Brood it appears has the burden of command, but one doesn’t get the sense of the burden of caring for who he is with—of that intense connection as between Rake and the Andii, or between Whiskeyjack and the Bridgeburners.

Some good comic relief with Gruntle and Itkovian and Stonny. Yes, the Riff and Raff, the image of the two of them looking at the report and wondering (how often do you see/hear people do this sort of thing), but I think what got the biggest laugh from me was Stonny complaining how the two are “in the way” and Gruntle asking how that can be possible on a plain. You can almost always count on Erikson breaking our mood regularly so things never get overwhelmingly heavy, unless we need to be overwhelmed (which does happen; yes, it does).

The little ride-by regarding Anaster being merely a “shell” is important—file.

Gee, wonder why Bauchelain is bad-tempered. Been a tough few days for him: the siege attacks, the Women of the Dead Seed, Quick Ben, then Hood’s threat. And I love his bluntness after Itkovian starts to answer his question about the uniform: “I wasn’t really interested.” And his thinking Reese’s toothache garb was some “newly acquired local fashion.” Not to mention of course Reese’s response to Itkovian’s attempt to get him healed.

“Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.” Something to perhaps think about as we continue on.

Talk about a shift in tone—from the comedy of this scene with Itkovian and Gruntle, right into the “stench of smoke,” “bloodstains,” “the slaughter of acolytes.”

So Mhybe-Silverfox, Matron-Toc, now Coll and his perhaps-child with Simtal—lots of parental issues going on. I like Murillio’s honest bluntness when Coll starts going all starry-eyed on his ability to raise a child: “I know you can’t.”

Well, the Mhybe is finally starting to get it—that perhaps the wolves weren’t out to get her, that maybe hell wasn’t really hell. Then, just as we’re thinking maybe it’s not too late (though she herself thinks so), we get, as Amanda says, quite the sinister end.


Amanda Rutter contributes reviews and a regular World Wide Wednesday post to fantasyliterature.com, as well as reviews for her own site floortoceilingbooks.com (covering more genres than just speculative), Vector Reviews and Hub magazine.

Bill Capossere writes short stories and essays, plays ultimate frisbee, teaches as an adjunct English instructor at several local colleges, and writes SF/F reviews for fantasyliterature.com.

24 comments
Tai Tastigon
1. Taitastigon
Never quite knew what to make of this chapter. It is short anyway, but kind of a lull. On purpose, I´d say. SE, as ever, loves these little throwaway chapters to hide a lot of info in open sight while you snooze away. The Nah´rhuk...*grins*...gods, this is so in your face while betting on the reader ignoring & not filing it.
Emiel R
2. Capetown
"Gee, wonder why Bauchelain is bad-tempered. Been a tough few days for him: the siege attacks, the Women of the Dead Seed, Quick Ben, then Hood’s threat."

Don't forget their encounter with Picker and Blend. :-)
Emiel R
3. Capetown
@Amanda

"“Shall I gather my Winged Ones?” Reference to the vultures created from the Crippled God?"

No, those were the Great Ravens.
djk1978
4. djk1978
The Winged Ones are surely the seer's "magic" condors.
Bill Capossere
5. Billcap
Capetown@2

How could I forget that scene?!!

Taitastigon--you’re right, one can almost hear SE snickering . . .
Tai Tastigon
6. Taitastigon
Bill @5

Oh, SE has his direct post-action info dumps...and then he has his sneaky, indirect premonition/preview info dumps that are one gigantic invitation to please get ignored. Not on this reread they won´t ! *grins*
Emiel R
7. Capetown
@djk1978

Yes, but I was referring to the 'created from the Crippled God' part.
karl oswald
8. Toster
Capetown is correct. the vultures aren't truly created from the crippled god, he just gives the power to pannion. we'll find out what the birds are stuffed with soon enough.
Mieneke van der Salm
9. Mieneke
@ Amanda:
The only problem... I see tragedy in their future. How can this possibly succeed, this love affair between mortal and immortal? In the midst of a war?
I'm with you there. I love Korlat in this scene, but I have a bad feeling about it. I have ordered hubby to buy Kleenex in bulk, so that when the time comes that I'm bawling my eyes out over these two, I'll be well prepared!

You know how you guys always wonder at any assumption a character has? Well this thing about Rake not knowing about the true origins and powers of Moon's Spawn, is that really true or just a wrong assumption by the Seer? (I'm so hoping the latter!)

The Seer by the way is just twisted and evil. Then again, if he truly is one of the Jaghut children suddenly trust into the chasm and the embrace of the Matron by Kilava, isn't he to be pitied as well? That would drive anyone insane and Tyrant-ish. And whited out as I don't know whether it might be right and a spoiler:
Is the Seer Itkovian's final mission? Will Itkovian be done after embracing him?

I don't which is more tragic in the Envy scene, Lanas admitting that the First Gathering was a mistake or Baaljagg's suffering.

First of all: Stonny Rules! I love this convo between Itkovian and Gruntle and Gruntle's eventual acceptance of Itkovian's inability to make Buke accept his offer. It's also rather sad what this scene says about Buke, isn't it?
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
In Chapter 21, the poem was about betrayal and then we looked at layers of betrayal.
Here in Chapter 22, the poem is more subtle. The blind ant follows the treacherous path while beneath it awaits the spider. So, the theme is one of the trapping oneself through ignorance.
The Seer doesn't know where Moon's Spawn is and concludes it destoyed. This lead to confidence. Crone doesn't know where it is and also concludes it destroyed. This leads to panic.
Lot's of other instances of everyone revealing their incomplete knowledge--Brood, Kallor, Gruntle, ...
Then, the final scene of the Mhybe circling towards the cage of bone. The Mhybe doesn't know towards what she is pulled. Maybe she will find out.
Joris Meijer
11. jtmeijer
I never noticed it before in my rereads, but the ice-free harbour is probably Erikson being sneaky.

Regarding B&KB, I am hazy on the timeline but did we/they start to meet some specific part of the army yet?
Emiel R
12. Capetown
@jtmeijer

An ice free harbour as opposed to a harbour full of ice in a (much) later book?

Re B&KB, this is their last appearance in the book, so the answer to your question is probably yes.
djk1978
13. Jordanes
Is it me being forgetful, or does Coll's child never get mentioned again in the series?
pat purdy
14. night owl
Korlot's attention drifted once more. It has been doing that a lot of late. She'd forgotten what love could do, as it threaded its roots through her entire soul, as it tugged and pulled at her thoughts, obsession ripening like seductive fruit. She felt only its life, thickening within her, claiming all she was.

Is SE telling us Korlot is preggers? If so, wow...I love this love story.
Joris Meijer
15. jtmeijer
@ Capetown. No, in relation to things happening later in this book.
Amir Noam
16. Amir
jtmeijer @11
I thought so as well (re: the ice free harbor)
Tricia Irish
17. Tektonica
meineke@9: I believe Rake knows the origins of Moon Spawn....he was probably there for the battle, given his age. I think the Seer is wrong about this, as he is about it being destroyed....and a few other things.

Nightowl@14: interesting. That passage you quoted certainly is suggestive....but, I don't think we get anymore info on this...do we?

Korlat/WJ is such a wonderful love story....not cliche and sexual, but profound and deeply soulful. How refreshing.

Love Stony....that whole bit is such great dialogue and good humor.

Itkovian is so "christlike". He is an amazing " ideal" of love and forgiveness, understanding and humility. Would that all the world could be so selfless......

I don't remember Coll's kid being mentioned again anywhere....or I missed that, like I've apparently missed a few other things ;-)

Tait: You are right...lots of sneaky info in here. This whole book is an info dump, which I didnt' realize the first time through, of course.
Brian R
18. Mayhem
@9 mieneke
Rake absolutely knows the origins of Moon's Spawn - as first son of Darkness, he was there when the civil wars broke out - however it is quite likely he is unable to use it to its full potential as he isn't a K'Chain so cannot interact fully with their mechanisms. There is only one named person who could, and he's on another continent.

It is never revealed exactly how the Tiste Andii control Moon's Spawn, I guess it can just be handwaved away by saying 'magic'.
djk1978
19. djk1978
I think I'm in the minority who doesn't like Stonny's character. I understand why she is the way she is. I even sympathize with it. She went through something really ugly. It twisted her into something not too likable for me, both now and in later books. Again, I think her depiction is realistic for her experience, but I don't like her.

Tek @17: If I know what battle you are referring to then I think actually that Rake was not there. A certain other Andii was, along with a few other characters whose names I'll leave out for now but I think Rake was not. I do suspect that Rake indeed does not fully know the abilities of what the sky keeps can do. As Mayhem said there seems to be only one who does know, or rather find out. I don't think that at this point in the series he/she knows yet. Rake's control over Moon's Spawn seems limited to a few things.

@13: I've been trying to think of Coll's child and I can't come up with it. Seems like a loose end that gets dropped.

@14: I don't think that's what SE is saying about Korlat. With Mother Dark gone, the Andii generally appear to feel empty and apathetic. Korlat has found something to replace that lost feeling. I won't say that's all, because that's big in itself, but I don't think she is pregnant.
Iris Creemers
20. SamarDev
Yay, I've caught up! The past few weeks we have read so many powerful scenes, and still it is not yet done...

Btw, I have really enjoyed the thorough analysis of Bill and Amanda. How much you can still grasp after having read the series a couple of times. And how much you can grasp while being first reader! Compliments to Amanda.

I wonder how the split posts will work for me now I've caught up. Before, I often read the combined post in a couple of days and then had some time left to join in and follow the discussion. I guess that won't work for the wednesdayposts anymore, but I'll see.
First: up to the final of MoI!
M D
21. Abalieno
Reading Amanda's comment it seems that the last chapter undermined all she knew and made her lose her grip ;)

She forgot that the Crippled God generated Great Ravens, and not "vultures". Or that Toc was traveling with Baaljagg, the last surviving ay. The link with Fander-ay was made explicit a few chapters back and then repeated a number of times. And that it was K'rul to save Baaljagg.

I was wondering instead, wasn't Baaljagg the ay of the prologue? Because in that case it couldn't be easily linked with Fanderay. The fall of the Crippled God happened much later than the First Gathering. That means that K'rul saved Baaljagg, kept her alive for hundred of thousand of years, and finally put Fanderay's soul into her. A bit convoluted...

Besides, weren't all the remaining "ay" made immortal as well through the ritual? In that case there were many left, not just Baaljagg. I'm suddenly losing grasp of the basics of the plot as well ;)

Being too busy for more careful commentary, I'll just say that I didn't like much the first scene here. The Seer sounds too much like a parody of the Evil Guy, with most of his short sentences ending in exclamation marks. It doesn't make an interesting character and it was a scene that felt a bit stilted overall (thought Bill found a number of interesting little things).

I noticed this is at least the second time that K'rul and Lady Envy are described as siblings. The first time I immediately thought they were being described as brother and sister, and in second moment realized that it was only a way of speech. But here it comes again. And THEN, I realize that the first time it wasn't at all about K'rul and Lady Envy, but Draconus and Nightchill:

You have no idea what you threaten, mortal. My brother's sword hides far more secrets than you can contemplate.

And now I'm wondering if this mistake I made isn't hiding something of some sort. K'rul is really related to Lady Envy in some ways, and was Nightchill a Tiste Andii? Or maybe these terms are simply being used to refer to all of them as "Elder Gods"? It's even more likely as I think Lady Envy was mentioned as related to Anomander Rake too. Go back to the Prologue and you notice that K'rul and Draconus call each other "brother".

Instead I wanted to point out one of those "mirror" scenes. In a way Korlat's description of her love reminds, even in the use of language, that of a prisoner.

And you, my dear lover, thief of all my thoughts, will you ever release me?

I don't think this as simply "poetic", as the theme has been used already in Toc and the Matron's case. Love as prison.

And this especially reminds me a certain link outside the series but that fits particularly well. DFW again, using language that evokes directly Malazan, and whose meaning completes perfectly this idea of love as a prison. What it truly means, what it hides (which is the underlying theme of many scenes in Infinite Jest):

"No, but this choice, Katherine: I made it. It chains me, but the chains are of my choice."

If anything, DFW goes to an extreme that surpasses even the one of Toc and the Matron (he uses a woman with no skull and a series of absurd events). Love is indeed a dependence, a way to be slave to someone (or some idea). So where's the distinction? And back to Malazan, what is at the very core that makes Toc and Korlat different?

The (obvious) answer is linked to all my doubts that I explained about Paran's scene at the end of the previous chapter.

It's the choice.

And the choice is also the true theme of the dialogue between Lady Envy and Lanas Tog. The Gathering as the annihilation of choice (or chains that they lose control of).
B T
22. amphibian
It depends on what you mean by related.

The following will be a tiny spoiler for those who haven't read ahead or connected the dots fully:

Lady Envy and Anomander are indeed related in one sense of the word, but not as most people commonly use it. Envy and Spite are the twin daughters of Draconus and Sheltatha Lore. Draconus and Nightchill viewed each other as sibling Elder Gods and are not Tiste Andii or any particular species. They're more of the elemental sort...

Anomander and Envy were an item for a while - see the scattered mentions of fables about Envy, Brood and Rake traveling around for a while - but have no blood relation that we know of at all.
M D
23. Abalieno
Well, back on the reread to deal with an handful of pages. The kind that would mostly go unnoticed as nothing hugely significant happens, yet it's these parts that I admire the most and that I think are better written.

The scene between Gruntle, Itkovian and Stonny is awesome. Great banter and characterization. A few small bits I've picked:

Gruntle makes a joke about dividing his legion in two companies, one called Riff and the other Raff. Again showing his hostility about the "sacredness" of the whole deal with military organization as well worship of a god. He's being contrarian to the role that was imposed on himself. Defying.

This, in light of contrast with Itkovian (and it's interesting how now these two stay together as friends), is explained again a page later:

Trake's Mortal Sword despised armies; indeed, despised anything even remotely connected to the notion of military practices. He was indifferent to discipline, and had but one officer - a Lestari soldier, fortunately - to manage his now eight-score followers: stony-eyed misfits that he'd laughingly called Trake's Legion.
Gruntle was, in every respect, Itkovian's opposite.

And again this contrast is played shortly after:

The Mortal Sword wheeled his horse round and drove his heels into the beast's flanks.

Against Itkovian's description:

The faintest shift in weight and a momentary brush of the reins against his horse's neck brought the animal about.

Quite the different "worldview".

The interplay between the three has similar turnabouts that I love in the plot as well in dialogue, or every other form. First Gruntle asks Stonny for how long she followed them, then a spin on literal meanings, then Stonny says she was going to the Grey Swords and the other two were in the way, Gruntle answers that with so much space she didn't need to cross them, Stonny calls them "lazy pigs" and that if they had a brain they would try to get the reports, Gruntle retorts that Stonny is still talking with them, and so Stonny moves on to the those reports to prove her own point. While Gruntle and Itkovian stay back, apparently unperturbed, but then start wondering about the reports, still without making a move, so making them the fitting description of "lazy pigs" Stonny gave them.

But in the end Stonny comes back to tell them the reports, so "fulfilling" Gruntle's view ;)

And I'm definitely for the new guard. Paran and Gruntle:

I hate titles.

Again the theme of choice:

"You should have grabbed him by the throat and done it no matter what he wanted. That's what the new Shield Anvil's done to that one-eyed First Child of the Dead Seed, Anaster, isn't it? And now the man rides at her side -"
"Rides unknowing. He is naught but a shell, sir. There was naught else within him but pain. Its taking has stolen his knowledge of himself. Would you have had that as Buke's fate as well, sir?"
The man grimaced.

I've commented this specifically on Chapter 21 and here it's even worse. After writing that comment I figured a way out, about the reason why an imposed choice could have been necessary.

The point is: you need to be ABLE to make a choice, because choosing while being completely in the dark is basically the same as being driven by something you don't perceive. So forcing the purification on Anaster could have been justified. He never had the CHANCE to make a different choice in his life. He didn't know anything else and so he didn't know redemption. He had to be shown. In order to be "able" to choose he had to be forced into being aware. So the process wasn't about removing his choice (of living in pain), but about putting him in the condition of being able to choose.

But here, in the aftermath, the description isn't one of awakening. "Rides unknowing". Which means the purification for sure didn't help him in the way of awareness. Which means I'm raging even more at Paran's choice...

I wish I'd understand Erikson better on this.
M D
24. Abalieno
Need to get back in the habit. Leftover comments:

The Daru could feel the breath of unabated power, cool and indifferent, as he sat on the stone bench outside the chamber of the sepulchre.

"Cool and indifferent" isn't quite matching the picture of Hood. The fact they are in that place is a further confirmation. So this description seems quite similar to Mhybe's own experience. What is perceived is not as things are. Limited PoV.

We get some well written characterization of Coll that makes him a better defined character, and it also draws from his past. As mentioned by others this matter of his son seems relevant, so it's a bit disappointing if Erikson forgot about it in later books (and this is one aspect that objectively "suffers" from his restraint to do a through re-read and smooth the kinks).

Then the Mhybe's dream continues to rise questions that I still can't remember/figure out. The tundra is gone, maybe she's crossing now into Hood's realm.

It is ominous the way she feels, especially if takes as "foreshadowing":

She had no destination in mind for this journey of the spirit; nor the will to seek to fashion one in this deathly dreamscape, had she known how.

In a way that's what is going to happen. The dreamscape will be "fashioned", and it is going to be her destination. I'm not even wondering about the theme of choice here. I'm not sure I'm going to consider this whole plan as "merciful".

The riddle has yet to be solved, wondering if it will... I remember where this is all going, but couldn't remember the position and meaning of every piece. So the whole deal of Silverfox's "gift" with the T'lan Ay still escapes me.

Also not sure what to make of this representation of Toc, which seems like a mix of Burn and The Crippled God (described as huge, the Mhybe wondering if she's contained within).

The dust became as glass.

That seems a direct link back to the poem at the start of the chapter. But even here I'm missing the obvious meaning. As well as the web and spider that close the scene.

I'm feeling fairly dumb at the moment ;)

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